As ESPN begins laying off as many as 300 employees, one former anchor for the network says it has now turned into a “soulless monolith.”
“The pain, anger, frustration, sadness and outrage I feel after the mass executions (harsh, but occupationally and socially correct) of the past week of so many people I know, worked, lived and grew up with is enormously painful,” former SportsCenter anchor Charley Steiner wrote Friday on Facebook. “As ESPN grew from the soulful little sports cable station into the soulless monolith it has become, we were the last ones to realize what it would become.”
Steiner, who is now the radio play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, described his tenure at ESPN as a family experience that was at times “geographically and socially challenging.”
“I supposed we were on the so-called cutting edge,” Steiner added. “But that doesn’t seem to matter much anymore. Now it’s just cuts. Not just fat. Not just muscle, but down to the bone.”
Steiner went on to say that those who were fired this week — many of whom he worked with — were “occupationally and emotionally executed.”
In explaining the rationale behind the layoffs, ESPN President John Skipper described it as a “necessary part of our continued strategic evolution to ensure ESPN remains the leader in sports as well as the premier sports destination on any platform.”
Here’s the full Facebook post:
“I’ve been away from ESPN about as long as I was there. 14-years. I have made it a practice not to post, not to tweet about anything. Until now. More than likely this is a one and done. But the pain, anger, frustration, sadness and outrage I feel after the mass executions (harsh, but occupationally and socially correct) of the past week of so many people I know, worked, lived and grew up with is enormously painful. As ESPN grew from the soulful little sports cable station into the soulless monolith it has become, we were the last ones to realize what it would become.
Twenty-something years ago, Bob and Robin and I, and Keith and Dan and Tom and Boomer and the other enormously talented folks in front of the camera received an inordinate amount of attention and credit for what, I suppose, we look back as “the good old days” of Sportscenter (and the network in general). We worked long hours in a region of the country that was (to be kind) geographically and socially challenging and gave everything we had to make ESPN, ESPN. We kept up our end of the bargain. It was not nearly as easy or as glamorus as it appeared. It was, however communal. Marriages. Births. And yes, deaths. It was family. Besides churning out a product (how can they possibly fill 24-hours a day with nothing but sports?) that defined and re-defined how we present sports and had an audience think about what it is and was we were presenting. I supposed we were on the so-called cutting edge.
But that doesn’t seem to matter much anymore. Now its just cuts. Not just fat. Not just muscle, but down to the bone. This week, many of the men and women who provided the foundation, balance, direction and creativity to this iconic franchise were called into someone’s office and occupationally and emotionally executed. These are friends of mine with whom I worked in the studio, travelled, and reported. So, to gmat, wacko, izzy, barry, rausch, gus, scan “the man,” rick, rich, vecch, dave, tom, sadly the list is too long to include everyone (because I still haven’t heard all of the names of all of the casualties) know that my sorrow is as deep as my love, respect and my thanks.”
[Image via Shutterstock]
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